Prorogation and the ICT industry – what it means to us

by

Linda Oliver
Vice-President, ITAC

One of ITAC’s goals in 2010 is to monitor Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park on behalf of our members, keeping an eye on the bills and key characters that will affect the way ICT companies operate in the near future. It might seem ironic, then, that we start this when Parliament has been prorogued, essentially halting all progress on the passing of bills through the House of Commons and the Senate until March. 

On March 3, we will see the reopening of Parliament and a Speech from the Throne, meaning Parliament is back in session. Then on March 4, Prime Minister Harper will unveil a new budget. Like Bernard and many others in the ICT industry, I hope that in and around all this we see a clear commitment to a Canadian digital economy action plan. Until then, though, all committees have been dissolved and all bills have died on the order paper – this means the process of having each individual bill passed will start from scratch in March, regardless of how close to passing the bill had come. 

As one might hope, some bills will be fast tracked once Parliament is back in session in March and can be reinserted exactly where they were in the process, provided the Opposition consents. Here are a few of those bills which are particularly relevant to ICT:
C-27 (a.k.a. “the spam bill”): An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian industry by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act (Electronic Commerce Protection Act).

Bill C-27 was introduced last April, and is designed to prevent the installation of any computer program that could potentially send an electronic message without the owner/user’s consent. It also forbids any Canadian from sending a commercial message to an electronic address without the receiver’s consent, unless a business transaction between the sender and receiver has occurred in the previous year and a half. The financial penalties for violation of this bill are set to range from up to $1-million for individuals, to up to $10-million for organizations.

 
C-47: An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to support investigations (Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act)

Bill C-47 was introduced in June, and was called the “Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act.” It is designed to allow public telecommunications providers to share intercepted communications with authorized personnel under order from the Minister of Public Safety. If the provider had encoded the communications (and with the exception of digital signatures), the bill would require these communications to be decrypted as well.
C-46:  An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act)

Bill C-46 was also introduced in June, at that time called the “Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act.” It is aimed at preventing computer-related crimes by giving judges the power to issue orders to preserve electronic evidence, and to compel providers to produce data relating to certain communications (such as where they were sent from, and who sent them).

 
C-58:  An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service (Child Protection Act (Online Sexual Exploitation))

Bill C-58 was introduced in November, and is designed to force Internet Service Providers to notify police of any Internet address that is known to contain publicly-available child pornography. Under this act, ISPs would also have to notify police if they have reasonable grounds to believe that their own Internet service is being used, or has been used, to commit any offence related to child pornography.

 
Even though the House is not sitting, ITAC will continue to communicate with Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament to discuss what the ICT industry can expect from the government once Parliament resumes. Stay tuned to the ITAC blog for more.

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